The Florida Public Service Commission today voted 4-1 to reject efforts to allow investor-owned utilities to set energy efficiency and conservation goals at or near zero. Agriculture Commissioner Nicole “Nikki” Fried had called upon the FPSC to adopt meaningful energy efficiency standards and to reconsider the outdated Florida Energy Efficiency & Conservation Act (FEECA) goal-setting process, which were the outcomes of today’s vote.
“Today’s vote is both a huge victory for Floridians and complete validation of what I’ve said all along – FEECA does not work, does not ensure adequate energy efficiency goals for utilities, and needs to be revisited and replaced,” said Commissioner Nikki Fried. “I completely agree with the sentiments of Commissioners Brown and Polmann – FEECA is out-of-date and does not serve the public interest, which we as public servants have vowed to protect. This vote to continue the existing 2014 energy efficiency goals is exactly why I’ve proposed a brand-new dialogue on energy efficiency and conservation, and a brand-new process to deliver the energy efficiency utility standards that our future challenges demand.”
In her Department’s FEECA filing before the PSC in late September, Commissioner Fried called for major changes to the state’s obsolete energy efficiency goal-setting process, which was echoed by PSC Commissioners during today’s vote. “Despite 40 years of goal-setting, our current energy efficiency and conservation process has outlived its usefulness,” Fried said at that time.
Fried highlighted that despite FEECA requirements, Florida has the nation’s third-highest energy consumption, has fallen behind in share of alternative energy use, and fails to protect low-income residents from disproportionately high energy burdens. FEECA has also allowed for five new fossil fuel power plants to have been constructed since 2014; in July, Fried voted against new fossil fuel plant capacity sought by TECO.
Fried has also proposed alternative ideas to achieve energy efficiency and conservation, such as public benefit charges through which states like Oregon, Connecticut, and New York have conserved millions of dollars, megawatt-hours, and tons of carbon. In the coming 2020 legislative session, Fried has proposed the most ambitious energy and climate legislation in a decade, following her hosting the first state-level summit on climate since 2008.